Are you counting the seconds until the year 2020 is over? Many of us are. High school and college students have lived through The Year of The Yo-Yo.
One day they were sitting in a classroom or lecture hall, learning and discussing math, science, literature, music and other important subjects. The next day, they were sitting at home or in their dorm rooms or off-campus apartments, staring at a Hollywood Squares-like Zoom screen trying to stay interested (or awake) while deciphering muffled teacher musings.
Thankfully, we've reached the end of this turbulent year. If you're like many students, you make resolutions as you anticipate the coming year. There is some light at the end of the tunnel that we can see here in mid-December. The arrival of a COVID-19 vaccine has provided a bright spot, even though it may take months for its remedy to reach the general public.
Another hopeful note is that many school systems and colleges have expressed optimism for an in-classroom start for the spring semester. We can all keep our fingers crossed that those plans will materialize. In the meantime, back here at the end of 2020, students are grappling with the tentacles of the past year, trying to free their spirits for a fresh start in 2021. That's where resolutions can provide a lift.
I looked up the definition of resolution: "A firm decision to do or not to do something." I like that, especially the "firm" part. We can focus our determination on accomplishing or avoiding certain things. Resolutions can benefit both college and high school students, particularly those high school students who will be applying to college in the coming weeks or next fall.
The question, then, is: "What have you resolved to accomplish or avoid in the coming year?" Technically, you may not have thought of your plans as "resolutions," but they probably are. If you don't have any specific plans for 2021, but think that a few would be a good idea, let me present a few for your consideration.
Fastweb is a helpful source of information for college issues. In a new article from last week, student contributor Mary Bellm proposes 10 New Year's Resolutions for College Students. Here are four of those, along with some of my personal comments.
Money is a huge facet of student and daily life. Do you want to save some of your money for a trip after high school or college? Do you want to save enough to buy textbooks, pay for a few months of gas, or cover bills for the whole year?
Budgets, money tracking apps, like Mint, jars with holes and the lids glued on, shoeboxes, and envelopes are all easy ways to save your money and make it go towards something. If you don't want to save for a goal, think about looking into a high yield savings account for your new year's resolution!
Money-saving apps probably appeal more to students than do jars or shoeboxes. As I wrote in a previous post, paying for major college costs such as tuition by working a part-time job is almost impossible, but saving money for practical, everyday expenses, like those above can be done.
It takes discipline, though, if your goal is to be able to pay for textbooks, which are among some of the most outrageously overpriced items on the planet. The words of your financial resolution might go something like this: "I resolve to stockpile enough cash to pay for my own daily 'lifestyle' needs, so that I won't have to depend on my parents generosity or credit cards." That's a solid resolution well worth making!
This might be my new year's resolution this year! Cleaning can either be a broad category or a specific thing. For example, you can say "I'll work on decluttering my living space this year" or "I'll put my dishes right into the dishwasher instead of setting them down in the sink." Decluttering can also be as much or as little as you want if you go that route — 5 items in a room or 5 items a day, for example.
Ouch! I'm not currently a student but this resolution hits home. I just looked behind my computer and saw a jungle of dust balls and wires that would make my cable guy cringe. Of all the different types of cleaning, maybe the most important kind right now is keeping surfaces clean — desktops, furniture knobs, door handles, etc.
With COVID-19 raging across the land, it's important to keep those items as clean as possible to avoid possible contamination. I like the incremental process suggested above. Remember, Rome wasn't cleaned in a day, so to speak. Take a look around your living spaces. Maybe what you see will make you want to move to Rome! I try to look at cleaning this way: A little dusting every day keeps the allergies away. Create your own cleaning poem or feel free to use mine!
I don't mean going to Goodwill to shop (although that can be a fun idea)! You can make goodwill your new year's resolution and volunteer, donate, or do some other act of kindness every month, every week, or again as many times or as few times as you see fit. This can be sending someone a text to thank them or tell them hello!
This is my favorite resolution of Mary's 10. Unless you've been orbiting Mars the past year, you can't have missed all the negativity and ill feelings that the political world has inspired among our society, maybe even among your friends and family. Pile all of that on top of the stress created by the pandemic and you have a very unsavory, short-tempered world.
The antidote, at least for me, is Mary's word "goodwill." Resolve to give of yourself to those less fortunate. Tutoring someone in a subject you're good at will make your life richer. Even such a simple thing as showing your appreciation for what someone has done for you will make your (and their) world a bit brighter. Your resolution should focus on turning your energies less inward toward yourself and more outward toward others. If so, you'll begin to see the flip sides of stress and negativity.
Relationships are also a huge thing to do for a New Year's Resolution. If you can think of a relationship that you want to strengthen, disconnect from, or begin (whether it's romantic or not), you can form a resolution around it!
Let's say you've gone off to college and you've lost touch with a best friend or a family member, and you really miss talking to them. Decide how often you want to start talking with them again, make a commitment to yourself by setting phone reminders or marking it on a calendar, and reach out to let them know of your resolution!
I might even suggest using Post-It note reminders on the bathroom mirror, your desk, or your fridge if you need some visual reminders to help with this resolution. Who knows, whoever is on the other end of the relationship might want to make the same one, or similarly mark the dates and times on their end so you can strengthen the relationship! …
This resolution is a complement to "Goodwill." You may have had a falling out with someone — a friend, classmate, teacher, counselor or even a family member — and your thoughts about that are haunting you. If so, it's probably time to repair that relationship. I've found that having ill feelings toward someone bothers not only me but also the person with whom I'm upset. It's an awkward, uncomfortable situation.
I try to keep my relationships on an even keel. Think about the people in your life. If any of those relationships need repairing or reaffirming, resolve to act on that in 2021. Be thoughtful and kind. Once those situations have been resolved, you'll feel much better. With the uncertainties that lie ahead in the coming year, you'll want to have a positive mindset to deal with them. This is one way to accomplish that.
Thankfully, just two weeks remain in 2020. If you're not distracted by other year-end tasks, take time to look ahead. Resolutions made — and maintained — can make a big difference for you in 2021. Here's to a better, healthier and less stressful New Year!